Senate Republicans use filibuster to block the formation of January 6 commission

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot.

Six GOP senators broke with their party and voted with the 48 Democrats to move the bill forward, Friday. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Susan Collins, of Maine. Despite some GOP support, the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed in order to pass.

Before the vote took place, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer taunted Republicans who planned to vote against the formation of the commission. “What are you afraid of? The truth? Are you afraid that Donald Trump’s big lie will be dispelled?” Schumer said.

South Dakota Senator John Thune said he was concerned the Democrats would use the commission as a political “weapon” against Republicans in the 2022 midterms.

Last week, the House voted 252-175 in favor of creating the January 6 commission, with 35 Republicans supporting it. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to prevent it from moving forward, calling it a “purely political exercise.”

“The role of the former president has already been litigated exhaustively, exhaustively in the high-profile impeachment trial we had right here in the Senate several months ago,” McConnell said. He also cited the various Senate committees currently investigating security failures and the current Justice Department investigation that has led to hundreds of arrests related to Jan 6.

Despite the bill failing in the Senate, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said he will urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to convene House committees to investigate, or even possibly set up a select House committee, which Democrats would control.

This is the first successful use of the filibuster by Republicans during the Biden presidency, reviving talks among Democrats to end the procedure which requires 60 votes to move a piece of legislation ahead, rather than a simple majority.

In March, Biden received criticism for flip-flopping on his position on the filibuster, even accusing it of being racist. Biden was asked whether he agreed with former President Barack Obama that the filibuster is a “Jim Crow relic,” Biden replied saying “Yes.”

Republicans noted that the position is a reversal for Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years and has a long record of defending the 60-vote rule.

“Senator Biden was a relentless defender of the filibuster — but now that President Biden looks in the mirror and sees FDR, he’s keeping the door open for a complete 180 to blow up the institution he spent four decades defending,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement.